Social Question

erichw1504's avatar

What do you think about having a national internet ID card?

Asked by erichw1504 (26420points) April 15th, 2011

The U.S. has stated its vision about establishing an internet ID for everyone much like how we all have social security cards.

Read the article here.

What is your opinion about this? Will this help or make things worse? Will you get one? Will it eventually become mandatory? What would you think about your newborn baby instantly receiving a SSN and an internet ID?

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39 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Thanks to the Real ID act of 2005, we essentially already have a national ID. States have to conform to certain federally mandated guidelines for their Drivers licenses and other photo IDs.

Some states were fighting this, but I have not heard the status of those cases recently.

erichw1504's avatar

@WestRiverrat Yes, but this one is for the internet.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t think we need more ID numbers or cards than we already have.

“We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

Tropical_Willie's avatar

You are talking about a “fixed” IP address for each person.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I know that less identity theft is being touted as one of the benefits of this roll out but I can see a problem nonetheless with having just a single I.D. or two since if someone steals that, then they have access to many more sites of yours. I know people use the same log in and password for multiple sites but they shouldn’t do that either.

flutherother's avatar

They had begun to introduce identity cards in the UK but concerns about costs, data security and usefulness has led to them being cancelled.

crazyivan's avatar

I think we should accept that this is a necessary thing. It’s really not much different than the government taking control of the airwaves as radio got big. Korea was the first country to mandate an Internet Id and to my knowledge nobody else has followed suit yet.

Seems to work okay there. I run a social media site in conjunction with my job and I can say that people in my position are praying for this to happen in the US. I suspect that most people who make their living online would appreciate this. I’m not sure if I understand the objections, but I’d love to hear some articulated.

YoBob's avatar

IMHO, even issuing a national ID, which was effectively implemented via what amounts to back door policies and blackmail of state governments, is quite beyond the scope of what our federal government should be sticking there nose into. I find the idea of an Internet ID card to be Orwellian at best.

The_Idler's avatar

As a member of the elite, I’d appreciate it as a useful way of restricting the potential of the internet to facilitate and amplify the spread of subversive ideas and the occurrence of anti-establishment activity, whether electronic or not.

As a member of the masses, I want to hold on to as many freedoms as possible, especially when they are so useful for facilitating and amplifying the spread of class-consciousness and participation in anti-establishment activity.

As a cyber-criminal, I know it would make very little difference to my risk assessments, as I would never even consider “working from home” in the first place…

All hypothetical, of course, I am none of the above, for I am nought but a transient manifestation of thine imaginings…

erichw1504's avatar

@The_Idler I don’t know what just happened, but I gave you a GA.

CaptainHarley's avatar

AS did I! We do NOT need more governmental paperwork and bureaucracy BS!

gondwanalon's avatar

National internet ID cards? We don’t need no stinking national internet ID cards.

lloydbird's avatar

Which few individuals comprise ” The US..”?

TexasDude's avatar

What a wonderful idea! That couldn’t possibly be used to invade anyone’s privacy rights or to keep track of certain demographics of people based on the sites they visit! I welcome this glorious new system with open arms!

crazyivan's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I hear that a lot but I’ve yet to hear anyone explain why that’s a bad thing. Could someone explain the downside of reliable demographic data about the popularity of certain websites?

Vincentt's avatar

I would very much dislike to no longer be able to access US websites as a Dutch citizen without an internet card.

Apart from that, this is wrong on so many privacy-sensitive levels. I’m sure the Electronic Frontier Foundation would ring the alarm if this were to actually begin to look the least bit likely to happen, though.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@crazyivan Because that’s not what they’ll be pulling data about. And because it’s a step away from claiming that those who visit this set of websites represent this kind of threat/distraction/bad person/unhirable, etc etc.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@crazyivan Because not everyone in government has the people’s best interests in mind when they make decisions. What is to stop someone from flagging everyone that visits the DNC for an audit by the IRS? Or someone that visits a GOP site as being on a terrorist watch list?

I distrust giving anyone in government a tool that can be abused with such potential harm to citizens.

The_Idler's avatar

I just don’t see how it could benefit anyone, except the establishment.

And in any such case, we ought to be questioning the necessity and, aye, the motivations behind it.

Even if it remains a relatively inconsequential piece of legislation for 20, 30, 50 years, you don’t know what kind of people will be in control by then, and y’all may well regret granting them this power (along with all the others! come on America, get a grip, have you forgotten the whole point of your country!?)

gondwanalon's avatar

@crazyivan How much tax dollars will it that to pay a bunch of Federal employees to sit around all day collecting all of this wonderful information? It is likely far too much.

koanhead's avatar

Single sign-ons like OpenID are a great idea. Having only one, centralized sign-on authority for everyone (even if it’s only nationwide) is a foolish security risk (SPOF anyone?)

The Internet does not belong to the United States.
The Internet does not belong to telecommunications companies.
The Internet does not exist so that you can buy stuff from Amazon.

The Internet is about sharing information. It’s made to work in a certain way. Unless you belong to IETF, keep your grubby ignorant paws off it.

TexasDude's avatar

@crazyivan, okay then, imagine this hypothetical situation: you are a gay man who frequents gay community or even dating websites. Since the goobermint now stores your login data, they can track what websites you’ve been visiting and in the off-chance that they want to send jack booted thugs to come get you and take you away, you’d have a convenient target on your back.

The same could be said for religious groups, minorities, minority political groups, women who have had abortions, abortion doctors, gun owners, or anyone else who could be targeted for any reason who may have a particular desire to visit websites that identify themselves as such. Go back and read @Simone_De_Beauvoir‘s response.

In a sense, this scheme amounts to registration of certain types of people based on the websites they use. Anyone who can’t see something wrong with that needs to hit the history books, especially the chapters about the 1930’s in Germany.

koanhead's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard In order to work, these SSO systems need to be explicitly supported by the target website: you go to login, the client website (call it or whatever, to follow your example) redirects you to, say, to sign in there, verifies your login and sends you back to the client website. The authentication server ( doesn’t strictly need to know to whom it’s vouching for your identity except that it needs a target IP address where it can pass its authentication token. Of course, there’s nothing stopping NIST from building the kind of tracking you are talking about into the system- apart from public outcry.
The article also notes that the government’s system won’t be available for “three to five years”. By that time, Single Sign Ons will be all over the Internet, and everyone who wants one will have one. Google is already offering the service, and so is Facebook. Are you worried about them tracking you? Get an OpenID and use that for your sensitive browsing. All this is available now. Why NIST needs “three to five years” to roll out an existing technology is baffling to me.

Here’s a somewhat relevant link for those interested:

CaptainHarley's avatar

God, I HATE regimentation! Grrrrrr!

DeanV's avatar

I have nothing but goodspeak for this internet card!

crazyivan's avatar

So all anyone has is the “Slippery Slope Logical Fallacy”? This could lead to this, it might lead to that. That’s not a problem inherent in the system. It’s a future possibility of a problem. The fact is that if the government was interested in jack-booting gays the problem there wouldn’t be an internet ID card, it would be the government interested in jack-booting gays.

It would come in damn handy though, if you were trying to monitor the web for sexual predators, if you were trying to track down anonymous death threats, if you were trying to monitor and back track the source of viruses, if you were monitoring or operating a website with user-generated content or if you were trying to stop illegal downloads. Those are effects that this would definitely have, but all anyone has offered in opposition is things that might happen if… and all I’ve seen here are really outlandish claims.

koanhead's avatar

@crazyivan It would not have any of the “positive” effects you cite because it’s a voluntary system. Individual sites would need to implement it in order to work. It won’t magically allow anyone to monitor anonymous (non-logged-in) users.
I agree that there’s an unfortunate amount of woo among the answerers of this question so far, but it’s hardly fair to paint everyone with such a broad brush when you have clearly misunderstood the article (or its ramifications) yourself.

To reiterate for everyone: This is not a “National ID” scheme. The NIST is working to set up a standard for trusted third party authentication, and maybe someday set up a service of its own. Meanwhile, Google, Facebook, OpenID and several other organizations are already providing this service right now. The government’s plan is no threat to the existing services. You can choose who to trust.

If, someday, the government changes its plans and requires all American internet users to log in through their authentication scheme before their packets are routed, then that’s bad. It would be tantamount to a Great Firewall of America, and would probably break things. There’s no indication in the article that anyone plans to do this, but there’s no reason to ignore the possibility.

crazyivan's avatar

@koanhead I didn’t misunderstand the article (or its ramifications). I was responding to the responses. And yes, someone has tried the national Internet ID. A whole country in fact. Not sure how it’s working for them, but they haven’t “broken” the Internet with it.

Vincentt's avatar

Hmm, reading the latest responses makes me think that maybe this is a system similar to something we have here in the Netherlands called DigID, which is coupled to your SSN and only used by government institutions. In this case, I feel it’s a positive development because it allows the government to provide services online that it wouldn’t otherwise be able to provide, and isn’t used for other services (such as verifying whether you’re allowed to visit a porn website). Developing it would take long, I think, because it really, really, really needs to be secure, far more so even than something like Google Accounts have to be.

crazyivan's avatar

Americans tend to be paranoid about anyone knowing anything about them (but they’re perfectly willing to give out personal info on FB and then go nuts when they find out FB has their personal information). I think we’ve convoluted the notions of privacy and freedom.

CeeCee1976's avatar

I say let it be. It has been a long time coming. If you look at this from a business prospective, all the revenue lost because of illegal downloading. So many businesses out of business. What a shame it has took this long for a system like this to be thought about. This is a smart decision for the government, an investment at that. This would create jobs, maybe a bail out for this country. An internet Id why not, is what I say.You would only be against this if you intetentions of the internet were ill. Lets help the future of the internet by inforcing a system like this.

TexasDude's avatar

@CeeCee1976, you did not seriously just make the “you would only be against this if you have something to hide” argument, did you?

TexasDude's avatar

And you don’t see a problem with that? You know… Ways in which it can be used to justify curtailing liberties?

CeeCee1976's avatar

How so, that isn’t already in play? This just cuts more of the middle man out. Has nothing to do with liberties has more to do with Justice for the all the businesses who have been screwed .Where is their liberties? This is their justice.

CeeCee1976's avatar

This system is not to track a gay mans frequent visit to a website this is a system to help track sex offenders and hackers. To prevent illegal downloading, pirating and the important internet qualities, I think you might have misinterpreted the information of the Internet Id Card.

The_Idler's avatar

What about people who expose criminal actions of the political-financial-military-corporate American Establishment and its allies? Maybe today’s Establishment will only turn off their internet, maybe tomorrow’s will only frame them for paedophilia, but maybe in 30 years they will be silently executed, and these kind of laws will set precedents that allow the levels of surveillance to facilitate it.

To give ruthless and totalitarian organisations – with considerable vested interests – the power of censorship over the most democratic medium of mass communication in history would be a crime against humanity and surely a step in the wrong direction, in terms of transparency and freedom of thought & expression, which are concepts supposed to inspire pride in Americans, not fear.

To suggest that huge corporations need the government to provide them with more authoritarian protection from the actions of normal people, rather than the reciprocal, is so incredibly perverse that, if I’d had somewhat less experience of Americans, I’d have trouble believing you weren’t actually a corporatist capitalist or at least the direct agent of one.

The_Idler's avatar

“So many businesses out of business…This would create jobs, maybe a bail out for this country.”

Do you know why people are going out of business and why there are not enough jobs and why your country needs a “bail out”!?
Certainly not because kids downloaded games from the internet that they could never afford anyway.

And you reckon an Internet ID might solve all these problems…. by controlling kids who download video games and guys who look at pictures of naked children?
That’s not much more credible than blaming the Jews and Gypsies, if see what I’m getting at?

I mean, most internet pirates have probably ‘stolen’ a few thousand dollars’ worth of products from the mega-corporations, and it’s not zero-sum (no actual loss) and they’d likely only have bought 10% of what they have, if they’d had to pay for it. Contrasting this to the financial institutions, which have cost the public countless billions of dollars and millions of jobs & homes, I think it’s apparent that you need to sort your priorities out.

The_Idler's avatar

I understand the current proposal is not inherently totalitarian or sinister, but it sets a precedent for the government-enforced de-Anonymization of the Internet, which many powerful vested interests would certainly like to see, and for this reason I think it is important to be extremely wary of such proposals for areas not vital to national and/or personal security.

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